After 14 months with trash pickup being once a week, the City of Marion switched back to picking up residential garbage twice a week at the start of July.
Routes will be Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday.
City Administrator Doug Kjellin said he made the decision after comparing fuel use for the first half of 2011 — before the switch to weekly pickup — to the first half of 2012. He hoped to find significant savings that he could use to justify less frequent pickup.
Instead, he found fuel expense for the garbage truck was 3 percent higher. The price per gallon of diesel was about 2.2 percent higher in 2012, partly explaining the cost change.
Kjellin thinks the garbage truck had to make more trips to the transfer station because it filled faster with weekly pickup.
There weren’t wage savings either, because the city employed the trash collectors in other duties on days without trash collection. On especially busy days, the city would add a third worker to the truck.
Faced with evidence that an unpopular change wasn’t saving the money that was hoped, Kjellin changed course.
He said he considered how recycling could fit into the schedule, possibly with recycling in place of the second trash pickup. But the city isn’t equipped for sorting recyclables, and Marion County Transfer Station doesn’t have space for unsorted recyclables.
Among comparable cities nearby, Hillsboro, Herington, and Council Grove all have weekly residential trash pickup. Like Marion, Hillsboro’s is done by a city crew, but Herington and Council Grove hire contractors for the task.